Have you ever heard of someone dying because of a broken heart? It’s usually when their spouse or partner of a long time passes away, they have no one left and get lonely. Loneliness is not healthy for anyone.
According to WebMD, seniors who are lonely have a higher risk of getting dementia or depression and they have a more difficult time doing daily tasks. This doesn’t necessarily have to be with family, it could be volunteering in the community, finding a hobby, and joining a club (any club be it knitting, fencing, working out or walking, cooking, etc.), just doing anything that can keep you connected to others. And for those who can’t get out of the house, it can be a phone task or video chatting.
Just like we keep our bodies healthy, we need to work on the mind as well. Keeping the mind active can help to prevent cognitive decline and issues with memory (which is something that we always generalize with older people).
Working the brain isn’t like running 5 miles every day, it can be as simple as doing crossword puzzles or games, learning a new task (take up crocheting or cooking), and doing things differently (brush your teeth with the opposite hand, walk a new route, etc.), anything to keep the brain working and thinking.
By doing the same thing day in and day out, just like muscles, the brain tends to lose its muscle so to speak. In order to prevent the decline, keep the brain going every day with little tasks (you can even do this and connecting with others at the same time by taking up classes to learn new skills).
We’ve worked on your mind to keep that active, but you still must keep the body active as well. This doesn’t mean spending hours in the gym; it means just moving your body. First, before you start doing anything make sure you discuss with your doctor if you have any restrictions due to age or medical conditions.
Then find some things that you like to do. Staying active can also help prevent memory loss, dementia, and keeps you strong. You can do this with family/friends/neighbors, go walking after dinner or in the morning, go to the local pool and swimming (which is a great low impact workout), walk the dog for longer (get a dog if you don’t have one).
The more you move, the healthier weight you can maintain the better can feel. Being more self-sufficient (and working out can significantly help that) can keep you going in the long run. When we see a senior walking around, carrying their own groceries etc., we associate them with having good health.
Imagine sitting and eating junk food all day long and what that would do to your body both physically and mentally. Eating well is something that doesn’t have to be overly difficult, no need to cut out every “bad” thing from your diet, but you should be consuming less processed food and eating more whole food with a clean diet.
A clean diet can help to keep you feeling more energetic and (if you are watching what you eat) can keep your weight at a healthy level. Our metabolisms slow as we age, meaning we need less to eat, but instead of eating less food we can incorporate healthier more filling foods.
Sounds corny but we hear the statement they are just stuck in their ways often when it comes to the older population. Being stuck in our ways can lead to increased stressed, reduced focus, poor emotional reactions, etc. Being mindful and able to live in the moment and accept and go with change can help to keep all that in check. Higher stress can lead to increased illnesses and when you get older it gets harder to recuperate.
Being able to handle change is a big part of reducing that stress. Acknowledge your feelings (this isn’t how it used to be done, I’m angry) and move on. Focus on what you are happy with, look for the silver linings that are indeed there, and move forward.
If you can’t it will eat away at you. Don’t ignore the issue or your feelings, accept them, process them, and then find a new plan. Find the happiness and the meaning behind what you are doing now, be excited and learn how to live with and accept new challenges. Doing this will help you age slower. A young mind can make all the difference when it comes to aging.
Wear sunscreen! In 1999, Baz Luhrmann put out a spoken word song called Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen. It’s a great song. But the point is that taking care of your skin is essential. We tend to associate older generations with wrinkly, crepe, dry, terrible skin.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Yes, genetics plays a roll, but starting young can help to prevent so much of the damage that happens. Wear sunscreen when you go out, avoid harsh and abrasive chemicals on the skin, and wash your face nightly, use creamer.
Keeping your skin healthy (and having a healthy diet and drinking copious amounts of water helps too) is the epitome of aging well. Looking at an older person with beautiful skin lets the world know that this person takes care of themselves both inside and out.
Baz Luhrmann. Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen
Aging Well. Staying Healthy as you Age